UNITED Co-operatives has acquired the 56-branch P Williams pharmacy group for an undisclosed sum in the biggest deal ever agreed by the society.
With an annual turnover of more than £ 50 million and employing 600 staff in its retail and wholesale operations, the family-run business is one of the few remaining large scale pharmacy operations in the UK.
The acquisition makes United Co-operatives Health Care Group the UK's fifth largest pharmacy chain.
United Chief Executive Peter Marks said: "Three years ago we had 129 pharmacies; now we have 230 and we are all set for further growth which will take us to over 300 branches within the year and consolidate our position among the top five pharmacy chains."
Founded almost 80 years ago in Crewe, the Nantwich-based P Williams now covers the Wirral, Cheshire, North Staffordshire and the East Midlands and currently runs 56 pharmacies (nine with in-store photo processing facilities), three Photo World outlets, a World of Babies store, as well as a number of business-to-business wholesaling operations.
Commenting on the sale of his family's business to United Co-operatives, the group's Managing Director, Steven Williams, said: "I am delighted that we have been able to secure a deal with a business which shares the P. Williams values and principles. Like us, United Co-operatives Health Care Group is committed to investing in its people and in its service to patients and I am confident that together we will be able to offer the highest level of customer satisfaction in a professional, caring and ethical environment."
Hammonds Leeds acted for the Vendors and United Co-operatives was represented by its Legal Department. Bentley Jennison and Hall Smith Whittingham also advised the Vendors.